2014 PEP Best Practice Awards
The ultimate goal of PEP activities - both in terms of building/promoting local capacities AND producing high quality research - is for the yielded evidence and new expertise to serve to inform decisions-making in the concerned countries, for both poverty reduction and socioeconomic development. See the PEP impact stories.
As researchers, by vocation, are not naturally inclined to engage in activities related to communications, media and public relations, PEP has made it both a fixed component and selection requirement for the project teams it supports to undertake initiatives that will maximize chances for their findings to be acknowledged and taken-up by relevant policy decision-makers and/or advisors.
In the context of the 1st funding round of the PAGE program, PEP launched a new "Best Practice Award scheme" to reward (on an annual basis) those research teams who would most actively engage in the implementation of a successful “policy outreach” strategy, i.e. to link their PEP research findings to policy action/influence - either at the local, national and/or international levels.
Selection of awardees
Among the criteria or indicators used to assess the performance of each team in terms of communications and policy outreach, are:
- the targeting and engagement of relevant policy makers and stakeholders
- the incorporation of their inputs in the project design
- the frequency of consultations held with these stakeholders throughout the project cycle, including to validate the preliminary findings
- the Initiatives taken, independently, by the research teams to disseminate information about their PEP research work and findings– incl. use of media – throughout the project cycle
The progress and achievements of the research teams in all these activities are closely monitored by PEP staff through the PEP “Monitoring and Evaluation” system – a series of computerized technical report forms that the teams must fill out and update on a periodic basis throughout the project cycle.
Those criteria used to assess performance in terms of research conduct and quality include:
- The quality and relevance of research design and data collection methods
- The respect of timetable/deadlines and timely response to comments from mentors/evaluators
- The significant involvement of junior researchers in the conduct of research work
- The quality, soundness and relevance of the data analysis and results
- The scientific quality of outputs (such as progress reports and presentations)
A pre-selection of 8 project teams, out of the 25 contending this year, was made based on each team’s performance in the criteria of the first category (i.e. research communications and policy outreach). The teams’ mentors and program coordinators where then asked to evaluate these 8 finalists according to the quality of their research work. The final ranking is determined, based on these ratings and information provided on each project, by a neutral selection committee, which selects the winners.
2014 PEP award winners
The winners of the first edition of the PEP Best Practice Awards were selected out of the 25 research teams who had been supported over the year 2013-2014, i.e. under the 1st round of PAGE funding.
The awards were presented during the closing dinner of the 2014 PEP Annual Conference, held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) on May 7, 2014. The 2014 awards included three prizes and their winners are the following PAGE research teams:
This project, led by Nikica Mojsoska Balzevsk, is the first to be supported by PEP in the region of the Balkans. It aims to explore if remittances may be used to support the entrepreneurial activities of unemployed youth in households receiving remittances in Macedonia. Follow this link to find more information on the research project - team members, research method and objectives, etc. including a video).
From the earliest project stage (i.e. proposal design) the team has exerted outstanding efforts to 1) create linkages with relevant national government agencies - contacting and meeting with the highest officials, e.g. ministers themselves - as well as to 2) engage national and regional mass media (tv, press, web), in order to raise awareness amongst both the decision-makers and the general public. Some of the project team members also took early initiatives (prior to entering the official, and supported, dissemination stage of the PEP project cycle) to participate in national and international conferences where they presented their research work and preliminary findings.
The efforts and achievements of this team are particularly remarkable considering the nature of the research project, in terms of methodology (i.e. microeconomics), which makes the task of research communications even harder when addressing a public or policy audience.
As a result of these efforts, the team managed to launch a nation-wide debate on the policy options for enhancing the effect of remittances on youth self-employment. Several national government institutions have committed to support and contribute to dissemination of the research findings into the decision-making sphere, and the researchers' recommendations will also be taken-up in the formulation of the forthcoming "Strategy and Action Plan" of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.
During the "awards ceremony", in Bolivia, the award was presented to Dr. Marjan Petreski (see top right-side photo, along with Randy Spence, President of the PEP Scientific Committee, and PEP-PMMA Program Coordinator Jean-Yves Duclos). Dr. Petreski is the Macedonian research team member and representative who had been invited to present the project's final report during the PEP conference.
This project is being implemented by Fundacion ARU, in Bolivia, under the leadership of Werner Hernani Limarino and Wilson Jimenez (see top right-side photo, along with PEP-Asia/CBMS network leader Celia Reyes, and Randy Spence).
The project essentially aims to strengthen capacities of local/sub-national governments in data collection and analysis, as well as to design social protection policies that address risks and multidimensional poverty, through the implementation and use of Community-based Monitoring Systems (CBMS).
While improving institutional capacity, the research project also seeks to examine the incidence of aggregate and covariate risks as well as formal and informal mechanisms of providing social protection in the informal sector.
The project team was able to mobilize support from, and establish partnerships with, the Autonomous Government of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, as well as with the municipal government of Concepcion, for the implementation of CBMS.
The CBMS-ARU team also managed to engage participation of (and thus "empower") various members of these communities in the CBMS process. For instance, in collaboration with the Education Units of Concepcion, the CBMS project team of ARU has contributed to build capacities of students in collecting household census data using tablets (or tablet computers). To disseminate the outputs of the project, a web platform (www.comunidad-i.info) was developed by the project team to provide access to CBMS data for key policy stakeholders, including local government officials, as well as to document the impacts of the project. The platform allows visualization of CBMS data in tabular, chart and digitized map forms.
Randomized Evaluation of an Unconditional Cash Transfer Scheme for the Elderly in Ekiti State, Nigeria
Led by Dr. Damilola Olajide (see bottom right-side photo, on the right) and five other local Nigerian researchers, this project aims to assess the impacts of one of the program of cash transfer for the elderly to be implemented in sub-Saharan Africa, using the experimental approach of "randomized controlled trial" (RCT). Follow this link to find out more about this project - team members, research method and objectives, etc. including a video.
The project team has held numerous consultation meetings with several government agencies at the state level - including the Ministry of Labour, the Governor's Office and the Commissioner of Intergovernmental Relations - the national level - including the National Planning Commission - as well as with the international institution of HelpAge International and Pension Watch (based in UK).
As a result, the project team has mobilized the full support and collaboration of the (Ekiti) State’s Ministry of Labour, Productivity and Human Development, in charge of implementing the cash transfer program and thus first-hand users of the results.
The project leader has also been asked by the National Planning Commissioner to advise on the scaling-up of the project, and it is expected that the research findings will serve as input for the development of a national policy on social protection in Nigeria (targeting the most vulnerable groups of the population)
Finally, information regarding the progress and outcomes of the project is being disseminated at the international level, through a series of blog pieces on the website of HelpAge international, as well as the national level, through mass media reports. Dr. Olajide was not attending the 2014 conference as the project is not yet completed, so the award was received by a fellow countryman, Dr. Olufemi Obembe (see top right-side photo, along with Randy Spence and PEP-PIERI program coordinator, Maria Laura Alzua) - Dr. Obembe was invited to the 2014 PEP conference to present a new PAGE project proposal for Nigeria.